Women, African Americans, and gays have recently upended US culture with demands for inclusion and respect, while economic changes have transformed work and daily life for millions of Americans. The national obsession with the National Football League provides a window on this dynamic period of change, reshaping ideas about manliness to respond to new urgencies on and beyond the gridiron. Thomas P. Oates uses feminist theory to break down the dynamic cultural politics shaping, and shaped by, today's NFL. As he shows, the league's wildly popular product provides an arena for media producers to work out and recalibrate the anxieties, contradictions, and challenges that characterize contemporary masculinity. Oates draws from a range of pop culture narratives to map the complex set of theories about gender and race and to reveal a league and fan base in flux. Though longing for a past dominated by white masculinity, the mediated NFL also subtly aligns with a new economic reality that demands it cope with the shifting relations of gender, race, sexuality, and class. Indeed, pro football crafts new meanings of each by its canny mobilization of historic ideological processes.
The National Football League is one of the most significant cultural engines in contemporary American life. Yet despite intense and near ubiquitous media coverage, commentators rarely turn a critical lens on the league to ask what material and social forces have contributed to its success, and how the NFL has influenced public life in the United States.
The editors of and contributors to The NFL examine the league as a culturally, economically, and politically powerful presence in American life. The essays, by established and up-and-coming scholars, explore how the NFL is packaged for commercial consumption, the league's influence on American identity, and its relationship to state and cultural militarism.
The NFL is the first collection of critical essays to focus attention on the NFL as a cultural force. It boldly moves beyond popular celebrations of the sport and toward a fuller understanding of football's role in shaping contemporary sport, media, and everyday life.
Contributors include: David L. Andrews, Aaron Baker, Michael Butterworth, Jacob Dittmer, Dan Grano, Samantha King, Kyle Kusz, Toby Miller, Ronald L. Mower, Dylan Mulvin, Oliver J.C. Rick, Katie Rodgers, and the editors.